Top 10 Most Lethal Poisons History Has Known
Our world has sadly become so laden with lethal weapons that could take the lives of millions of people in a matter of seconds.
People have become so creative in finding new ways to harm each other. In today’s world, guns and rifles might be the easiest and sure-fire way to kill, but have you ever wondered how crimes used to be committed in the past? Sure, there were swords, knives, and other sharp tools, but since the ancient times, the human managed to find sneakier ways to send people to death almost effortlessly and without a fight; poisons.
Poisons were abundantly used in the past for several ghastly purposes, whether political or even personal. The poisonous substances were extracted from natural sources or chemically manufactured. Back then, they thought that using these special toxic substances was the easiest way for committing murders and suicide. Despite how dangerous these substances are, there were some treatments of some poisons used for saving lives if the poison still has not seeped into every inch of the body. These toxic substances might not be widely used nowadays, since weapons have become faster alternatives, but that does not make them any less dangerous. Following is a list of the top 10 most lethal poisons; you might know some of them since they were multiply introduced in movies and literature.
Cyanide is the most popular poison since Agatha Christie has introduced it in her famous novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and it was also introduced in several Hollywood movies. The poison is deemed to be one of the fastest murdering methods ever, for it is capable of entirely destroying the function of the Central Nervous System, causing complete paralysis, and it also affect the heart, hindering the oxygen from flowing in the blood back to the heart. This toxic substance comes in different forms; the Hydrogen Cyanide which is a gas that could kill within several minutes from being inhaled, Cyanide pills and some say that undercover agents used to take these pills when they are busted, so they save themselves from the torture they could have gone through.
The tetrodotoxin, usually known with its abbreviation, TTX, is a neurotoxin, meaning it affects the functions of the brain, leading to mouth paralysis rapidly escalating to complete paralysis sending the victim to an instant coma, and eventually the nervous system gets utterly destroyed, immediately killing the consumer. Tetrodotoxin is found in marine creatures especially the blue-ringed octopus and the pufferfish; the octopus is capable of injecting its poison through direct contact with a human being by biting them; however, the pufferfish’s danger lies in eating it, and it is actually the fish most used for making the sushi. This fish has killed a lot of Japanese people, but that has not stopped restaurants from serving them for it is only dangerous when it is not cleaned properly, so these fishes are only served under the supervision of experienced and highly trained chefs.
Polonium is a lethal radioactive element; it emits a radiation that causes fatal poisoning, targeting the cells of the body and entirely killing them, either by being injected into the body, or inhaled. This poison is a slow killer; it might take a whole month for the victim to finally realize his downfall and die, and unfortunately it has no cure. The radiation of that element, Polonium, has proven to be deadly for all living forms, and if the infected victim has luckily skipped death, he/she would not be able to skip the likeliness of getting a serious disease like cancer. Polonium was actually the poison used for killing well-known political figures as the former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, and the Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko.
You have probably learned about this element in your science class during school years, but what you might have not learned is the fact that mercury has three different forms and they all could be poisonous; the first is called the elemental mercury which is found in the liquid-in-glass- thermometers that are used for simply measuring the body’s temperature, and it is only toxic when inhaled, even touching that liquid is not dangerous at all. The only case where mercury can be inhaled is when the room’s temperature is so high, turning the mercury into a vapor, and upon inhaling it, it stops the functions of the central nervous system, causing instant death. The other form is called the inorganic mercury; this form is the one used for making batteries, its danger lies only in ingesting it. This might be the less dangerous one because all it takes is a smart enough person who knows he shouldn’t swallow mercury, unless it was an accident. The third form is the organic mercury and it is the one found in the tuna fish; it becomes poisonous only if consumed in great amounts, and that is why tuna is always recommended to be eaten in limited amounts.
6 Botulinum Toxin
Its name actually says it all, it is a toxin. The bacteria of this substance can be very poisonous if it came in contact with an open wound; it is capable of totally paralyzing the muscles and destroying the functions of the lungs, throwing its victim to death. This substance is also found in some food like sausage in its toxic form that is known as Botulism, and it can only be killed by heating the food with a relatively high temperature, over 100c. The interesting fact about that lethal toxin is that it is used for completely contradictory industries; cosmetics where it is used in the processes of Botox injections, and in developing fatal weapons, the ones that are capable of throwing the whole planet to death.
Arsenic is one of the heavy metals that contain poisonous features. It has earned the title of the King of Poisons, not only because it is lethal and deadly, but also because it was undetectable in the past, so it was the perfect substance used for committing a murder without risking being caught, but that was only until the Marsh test was brought into being, when it became easy to detect the presence of the toxin in any matter. Ridiculously it was always used for cosmetic purposes such as skin bleaching. That poison was the reason for the death of famous figures such as Simon Bolivar and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Here is one more poison that was used in the past to kill a famous public figure named Markov; the Ricin. The interesting fact about that poison is that it is extracted from the beans of the castor oil plant; yes plants are beautiful, but, sadly they can be used for causing fatal damages by the extraction of their toxic substances. This poison can cause damages through injection, inhalation, or even ingestion. Its symptoms include a quite high fever. Ricin actually hinders the formation of the protein inside the cells, consequently these cells die and leave the body in a shocking state, causing death.
Strychnine is another poison that gets extracted from a natural sources such as plants, one of these plants is called Strychnos Nux Vomica. It is a transparent powder that has no odor. It was primarily used as an insecticide, but later involved in some murder crimes, because it is a strong poison that can cause severe damages with the minimal amounts. The first symptoms that appear right after consuming Strychnine are vomiting and acute nausea then it escalates to severe muscle contractions that subsequently lead to asphyxiation, the process of oxygen deprivation.
Belladonna is actually a plant that has a pretty name as well as meaning. It was derived from the Italian language and it means Beautiful Lady. In the past, women loved this plant insanely, for it was used for producing their beauty products. There was an eye drop diluted with the extraction of this plant widely used by women, because back then they thought that these drops made their eye pupils look sexier and more attractive. They also used to rub it on their cheeks for getting that red shade, the same reason why women use blusher these days. No matter how beautiful this plant looks, its leaves are actually deadly if they are ingested.
Hemlock is a poison extracted from a flowering plant. It was abundantly used in Greece during the ancient times. The Greek used it in quite merciless ways; they utilized the poison of these flowers to execute the prisoners. Once the poison starts seeping into the body, it causes complete paralysis for all the muscles, but the brain actually still works, and eventually the respiratory system goes out of business causing death. Hemlock gained more popularity after used for killing Socrates, the great philosopher.
After reading this article, you now have some knowledge about different poisons that you can impress your friends with, and most importantly, you are now aware of them and their fatal and dangerous effects. Sadly, most of the lethal substances people abuse to harm each other and their planet are extracted from our mother Earth’s natural sources like flowers.